Monday, April 30, 2007

It's Not A Sprint, It's a Marathon

I'm not one for clichés. Sometimes, however, they prove to be important. And the cliché referenced in the title of this entry is a lesson I'm currently learning in a couple of places.

First and foremost is with my career in Aflac. I'm off to a pretty slow start. Myself, my district, my regional, my wife, and just about everyone I know would like to see my writing more premium at this point in time. But it hasn't happened. For a number of reasons. Bad luck, bad timing, sometimes bad technique. And it would be easy to get discouraged.

Today was a good day, though. I saw six employees at an account in Tiffin, and we signed up five of them. The first time I can actually call something a "good day" in terms of premium production. And I was able to reflect on my previous endeavors. And I noticed I'm typically a "slow starter". My first five semesters at ONU, here are the grades I got in core courses for my major: B, B, C, C, B. I didn't get an "A" in a computational mathematics course at ONU until Spring Semester of my sophomore year. Maybe I'm just an optimist, but I like to look at that and say that pretty soon, I'll break through and start succeeding at Aflac, too.

The ONU mathematics courses aren't the only thing that indicate me as a slow starter, either. I got two "C"s in my undergraduate Real Analysis courses, before breaking through for a "B" and an "A" in my 500 level Real Analysis courses at BGSU (just don't ask me about the 600 level stuff). I got a very low grade on my first Abstract Algebra course as an undergraduate, before turning that course into the highest "A" in the class, followed by that professor taking me under his wing for two independent study courses in Abstract Algebra that followed that, and two "A's" in my 500 level courses at BGSU. Heck, it's laughable how many times I screwed up early on trying to court Rachel!

So, I'm encouraged that I can take a step back, look at my Aflac career, and recognize it for what it is: a marathon, not a sprint. I want to be in it for the longhaul. I want the 10+, 20+ year career with Aflac, not the 2-year cash flow, followed by burn-out. I want to learn the good habits that will get me through slow months later on.

Oh, right ... I said there were a couple of places I was learning this lesson. The other is dealing with grief.

I initially thought this was a sprint. I moved on quickly a couple of years back when Grandpa and Erin passed away. I pre-dealt with the death of my grandmother. And I thought I mourned and quickly moved on with JZ, too.

I've recently found out that it wasn't so easy with JZ. I've had plenty of "rough days" recently, with memories flooding me, and emotions overwhelming me. It's opened up the floodgates to grief from Grandpa and Erin, too, that I thought I was past.

Rachel and I were working on the office over the weekend, trying to get it set up for reorganization. I stumbled upon the bulletin from Erin's memorial at ONU, and then almost broke the plaque my mother bought for my wedding that was in memory of Grandpa. I couldn't even identify all the emotions that swarmed over me, I just know I didn't like them.

I guess this is good though. I guess the first step in really dealing with my grief is to recognize that I have to give it some level of priority and actually deal with it, not expect it to pass because I want to move on. I just hoped this would be a sprint, but unfortunately, I'm learning it's a very, very long marathon.

It might even be a triathlon.

I hope not. I don't know how to swim.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


So, my last post mentioned not wanting to have a "faith" that if we just pray/do good things/hope enough, that things will get done. And since I posted it, the idea of faith has been on my mind and my heart.

Not faith as I've ever thought of it before.

Faith in man.

I know, I know ... it sounds like a bizarre thing to want to have. Man is stupid, imperfect, continually lets others down. God is all-knowing, perfect, and always there.

Yet, I think we are called, as followers of Christ, to let others have faith in us.

I think it's all part of the fully-God, fully-human thing Jesus pulled off. He showed us that someone who was fully human could live a life such that we could have faith in that person.

How did he do it?

He met people where they were.
He invested his time into real answers, not superficial catch phrases.
He did as he taught.
He balanced challenging authority when it was necessary, with respecting authority when it was required.
He established credibility with people, before he asked them to take on tasks.

None of these are things we, as human followers of Christ, cannot do. There are people in my life daily who do these things, and challenge me to do the same.

So why can't we have faith in man?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What is Enough?

So ... there's a song that I used to sing quite often. I still sing it quite often, to be honest. I'm just not sure if I've ever sung it with a true heart. You've probably heard of it.

All of You
Is more than enough for
All of me
For every hope
And every need
You satisfy me
With Your love
And all I have in You
Is more than enough

Seems simple enough.

Tonight, Rachel and I attended the Ellery concert at Journey.

There was a (indirect) challenge given. Is it "enough" to have a "faith" that if we pray hard enough, God will change the situation? Regardless of whatever we do. If someone is sick, or lonely, or living in poverty, or trapped in any of a wide assortment of challenges life throws at us that God never really intended us to have, can we really get by and do "enough" without getting our hands dirty?

Have I been singing that God is enough, but only because I don't want to be part of the solution? Is He enough for me because I'm not waiting for someone to "get dirty" to help out? Because he's not placing me in situations to get dirtier than I want to get?

I honestly, honestly think I can find my answer in the book of James:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Here is my prayer:


Strengthen me to show others than You are enough for them.
Embolden me to represent you.
Empower me to fulfill promises you have made.
Keep me steadfast to my word.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Maybe I got one ...

Well, I asked for a break, maybe one is on the horizon. Just not sure it'll be soon enough to count for my next quota deadline.

Kris and I got a call from someone looking to add Aflac to their portfolio. That's right. Not a referral, not a warm reception ... someone actually asked us to come out by calling us. We gathered information on them, and it looked like a 30-40 man group. Pretty decent size, definitely worth pursuing (of course, I think any sale is worth pursuing). So, we get there, and we're going through the presentation, and find out the group is actually about 100 employees locally, and about 350 employees nationally.

So that's pretty sweet. Here's hoping it works out. T'would be a decent payday, to say the least.

On a related note, I'm growing more and more comfortable presenting the products every day. I'm interjecting more in presentations, and adding small insights that are helpful. Very cool to see actual growth in myself like that.

On an unrelated note, I'm totally excited to start working on the program book for STE. I'm overloading myself with ideas, and I need to schedule some time soon to work on putting the ideas in writing and moving forward with them. It's an exciting overwhelming!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Changing the Blog

Made some changes to the blog today. As I mentioned a few posts back, I just moved on from Secretary for Sigma Theta Epsilon to Vice President for Sigma Theta Epsilon. So, I thought this would be as good a time as any to make some changes.

You'll notice you can now see the tags from all my previous posts, and sort through them that way. You'll also notice a picture from my wedding, and a new title. The new title (I'm Just a Witness) is not just about my man-crush on LeBron James, but is also on the renewal I have in my life to be an honest Witness for Christ, for STE, and for Journey.

There might be a few other minor changes coming ... like, hopefully, more frequent updates. I guess we'll have to wait and see ...


All I need is one break.

Honest, that's it.

Something in this industry to go my way.

Thought I had one coming. Thought I had a slam-dunk, first account lined up today. Just had to figure out when we were going to cross the t's, dot the i's, and move forward.

But, I got another "I'm not saying no, I'm saying not right now".

And it's frustrating.

I just need a break.

So, if you're reading this and you are a small business owner, or you know a small business owner ... can you help a brother out?

Replacing an Icon

Been busy lately. This past weekend was Sigma Theta Epsilon's National Conclave of Chapters. Leading up to the meeting, I was National Secretary, and coming out of the meeting, I'm now National Vice President.

It's odd. I was elected National Secretary three years ago (in 2004), and I had no timidity about my ability to do the job, even though it didn't exactly match my skillset. I was a wide-eyed kid, about to be fresh out of my undergraduate studies, but I knew what I needed to do, and I knew I could do it.

It probably helped a great deal that I had a checklist of tangible measurable things (like getting out newsletters, membership records, and the such) that I could measure my success against that would help me. It also helped my confidence that I walked into the office with its standards not exactly the highest, and simply catching up on the past two guys' lack of work would be a success.

Now ... I'm National Vice President. Charged with being the programming and spiritual leader of the fraternity. Something much more suited to my skillset. And yet, I'm much more tentative about having success. Some of that is the success in this office is less tangible and less in my full control. Are there programs available? Are people using the programs? Part of it also has to be that I'm replacing someone I consider an icon of the fraternity, and a mentor of mine, in the position.

I think I'm off to a good enough start. Lead devotion Sunday Morning, encouraging us as a fraternity and as men of God to not limit ourselves to trying to do what is good, but try to do what is better. Introduced a programming theme, "Made For Love", and using a key verse of Micah 6:8, encouraged our members to be made for love, and to love loving others.

And now to follow through.

The weekend was amazing, but difficult to get through at times. And not just for business stress. Also for emotional baggage. Shan lead worship on Sunday morning, and the beauty of my brothers singing in my voice moved me, and brought me memories of JZ. I almost doubled over, overcome with emotion, and had to leave the room, but was able to make it through. The image of JZ looking down on conclave from heaven, and smiling as we moved forward as fellow workers with God was almost too much for me to bear.

It's not as though I shouldn't have seen it coming. I've had a string of bad days recently where thoughts of JZ have just rushed into my head and overwhelmed my emotions. About ten days ago, I was out shopping with my wife and her mother, and just got this urge to talk to JZ about the Indians ... get his opinion on if they could only keep one, who should they keep: Pronk or Hafner. I could hear him arguing both sides, just trying to put all information out. And I missed him so much. And I still miss him so much.

I finally figured out on the drive home why this weekend was so difficult for me in regards to JZ memories. One, JT was the alumni delegate for my "home" chapter, and JZ's best friend. Two, of the two events I had no control over that pushed me to National focus, JZ was integral to both. He nominated me for Epsilon President way back in February of 03, and he organized the first multi-chapter STE Bowl game, which lead to my desire to see more of the same, as well as some recognition for me as chapter president, when the game was a great success.

I can credit my national involvement and my ascension nationally at least in part to JZ. And he's an icon in my life that none will ever replace.

I think I should look into getting some grief counseling. I've been overcome by emotion often recently. I've stared into the heavens and longed to talk sports with JZ. I've stood in department stores holding conversations with JZ. I've closed my eyes and asked Grandpa if he's proud of me. I've driven down 30 and wondered why I didn't do more to be closer with Erin.

It's not that I don't like to remember. I love to remember. It's not even the tears I don't like, because they remind me that I have great joy in part because of those I miss. It's just ... I feel like I'm not making progress, and I don't know what else to do.

I knew I was lucky when I got through 22+ years of life before I lost someone very close to me to the icy hand of death.

I guess I never realized just how lucky.